CEC - California Energy Commission
CPUC - California Public Utilities Commission
EPA - Environmental Protection Agency
GHG - Greenhouse Gas
HVAC - Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning
IAQ - Indoor Air Quality
IEQ - Indoor Environmental Quality
LCA - Life Cycle Assessment
LEED - Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (USGBC)
NREL - National Renewable Energy Lab
NSHP - New Solar Homes Partnership (CA)
PV - Solar Photovoltaic
USGBC - US Green Building Council
VOC - Volatile Organic Compound
V2G - Vehicle-to-Grid
Biomimicry - bi-o-mim-ic-ry [from the Greek bios, life, and mimesis, imitation] Biomimicry is a new science that studies nature's models and then imitates or takes inspiration from these designs and processes to solve human problems (e.g., solar cell inspired by a leaf or Velcro which was inspired by the grappling hooks of seeds).
Carbon footprint - The total amount of greenhouse gases emitted directly and indirectly to support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of either carbon or carbon dioxide.
Cradle-to-Cradle - A phrase invented by Walter R. Stahel in the 1970s and popularized by William McDonough and Michael Braungart in their 2002 book of the same name. This framework seeks to create production techniques that are not just efficient but ore essentially waste free. In cradle-to-cradle production all material inputs and outputs ore seen either as technical or biological nutrients. Technical nutrients can be recycled or reused with no loss of quality and biological-nutrients composted or consumed.
Eco-Balance Sheet™ - Invented by Judi Schweitzer as a tool to account for both internal, and external costs and benefits of the triple bottom-line and their relevant opportunity costs and opportunity benefits of given development and design solutions.
Eco-value Engineering™ - Invented by Judi Schweitzer to describe her value-added process of engineering added economic and ecological value into a project relative to the project's lifecycle, bioregional climate and market conditions. ECO-Value Engineering™ can either be pro-active for those clients who want to be ahead of the curve of regulations and legislation and/or re-active which is driven by compliance issues.
Ecology - The study of the interactions of living organisms with each other and with their environment; study of the structure and function of nature.
Ecological Economics - A multidisciplinary field of academic research that addresses the dynamic and spatial interdependence between human economies and natural ecosystems.
Ecological footprint (EF) - Analysis that attempts to measure the human demand on nature and compares human consumption of natural resources with the earth's ecological capacity to regenerate them.
Economics - The study of the principles and customs that affect the production and material wealth for human needs.
Ecosystem - Self-regulating natural community of plants and animals interacting with one another and their nonliving environment.
Engineering - The putting of scientific knowledge in various branches to practical uses.
Externality - A cost or benefit from an economic transaction that parties "external" to the transaction receive. Externalities can be either positive, when an external benefit is generated, or negative, when an external cost is imposed upon others.
Formaldehyde - The chemical compound formaldehyde (also known as methanal) is a gas with a pungent smell. It is the simplest aldehyde. Its chemical formula is H2CO. Formaldehyde is classified as a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and as having sufficient evidence that formaldehyde causes nasopharyngeal cancer in humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Fuel Cell - an electrochemical energy conversion device. It produces electricity from external supplies of fuel (on the anode side) and oxidant (on the cathode side). These react in the presence of an electrolyte. Generally, the reactants flow in and reaction products flow out while the electrolyte remains in the cell. Fuel cells can operate virtually continuously as long as the necessary flows are maintained.
Global Warming - A term for the gradual average increase of temperature of the Earth's atmosphere and oceans. Local temperatures around the world, however, may increase or decrease in varying amounts. Global warming is accelerated by the greenhouse gases expelled into the atmosphere from human industry.
Greenhouse Gas (GHG) - Gases produced from human activities that trap solar radiation and thus contribute to climate change and the destruction of the ozone layer.
Hanover Principles - Developed by William McDonough and Michael Braungart, the Hanover Principles were among the first to comprehensively address the fundamental ideas of sustainability and the built environment, recognizing our interdependence with nature and proposing a new relationship that includes our responsibilities to protect it.
Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) - Assessment of the environmental impact of a given product or service throughout its lifespan.
Market Failure - A term used to describe a situation in which markets do not efficiently allocate goods and services. To economists, the term would normally be applied to situations where the inefficiency is particularly dramatic, or when it is suggested that non-market institutions such as public policing and firefighting) would be more efficient and welfare-enhancing than market solutions.
Natural Capitalism - Natural capitalism recognizes the critical interdependency between the production and use of human-made capital and the maintenance and supply of natural capital, including all the familiar resources used by human kind: water, minerals, oil, trees, fish, soil, air, etc. But it also encompasses living systems, which include grasslands, savannas, wetlands, estuaries, oceans, coral reefs, riparian corridors, tundras, and rainforests.
Photovoltaic (PV) - A solar power technology that uses solar cells or solar photovoltaic arrays to convert light from the sun into electricity.
Pareto Efficiency - An important notion in neoclassical economics with broad application in game theory, engineering and the social sciences. Given a set of alternative allocations and a set of individuals, a movement from one allocation to another that can make at least one individual better off, without making any other individual worse of, is called a Pareto improvement or Pareto optimization. An allocation of resources is Pareto efficient or Pareto optimal when no further Pareto improvements can be made.
Proactive - Serving to prepare for, intervene in, or control an expected occurrence or situation, especially a negative or difficult one; anticipatory.
Public Good - A good that is non-rival. This means: consumption of the good by one individual does not reduce the amount of the good available for consumption by others. Thus, if one individual eats cake, there is no cake left for anyone else; but breathing air or drinking water from a stream does not significantly reduce the amount of air or water available to others.
Recycle - The process of reclaiming materials from used products or materials from their manufacturing and using them in the manufacturing of new products.
Reduce - One of the most sustainable strategies is simply to reduce the amount of energy and materials we use and, thus, are required to be manufactured. This reduction has an exponential effect as it further reduces packaging, recycling, transportation, cleaning, disposal, and a host of other costs.
Reuse - The most sustainable option is to reuse materials and objects already manufactured, either for their original or new purposes, rather than recycle them into other products. This decreases further energy and materials use in recreating them into a new form.
Renewable - Any material or energy that can be replenished in full without loss or degradation in quality.
Sustainable Development - Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Triple Bottom Line - The Triple Bottom Line captures the essence of sustainability by measuring the impact of an organization's activities on the world. A positive Triple Bottom Line reflects an increase in the company's value including both its profitability and shareholder value and its social, human and environmental capital (Andrew W. Savitz with Karl Weber, The Triple Bottom Line, John Wiley & Sons, 2006)
True Costs - The true cost of something is what you give up to get it. This includes not only the money spent in buying (or doing) the something, but also the economic benefits that you did without because you bought (or did) that particular something and thus can no longer buy (or do) something else.
Value - The concept of general economic or financial worth of a product or service. Also, a customer's assessment of the ability of a product or service to meet their needs and desires. In neoclassical economics, value is simply the price an object would command in an open and competitive market.
Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) - Organic chemical compounds that have high enough vapor pressures under normal conditions to significantly vaporize and enter the atmosphere; VOCs are a contributor to both indoor and outdoor environmental air pollution. Common artificial sources of VOCs inciude paint thinners, dry cleaning solvents, and some constituents of petroleum fuels (eg. gasoline and natural gas).